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Best Pool Test Strips: 5 Popular Strips Reviewed

Pool ownership has its highs and lows, but if there’s one area you should never turn your back on, it’s monitoring the levels of the chemicals in the water.

Proper chemical levels are vital to maintaining not only a healthy environment to swim in, but also for protecting your pool from hazardous issues that can develop as a result of chemical imbalances. 

Keeping on top of these levels by regularly using the best pool test strips will keep your swimming hole operating smoothly.

Our Picks For Best Pool Test Strips

We looked high and low for the best swimming pool test strips across numerous categories, narrowing it down to just a select few.

Best Overall (Recommended)

Milliard Pool Test Strips – for...
Milliard Pool Test Strips – for...
  • HEALTHY WATERS - keep your waters in perfect...
  • 5 WAY TESTING - each strip accurately tests for...
  • QUICK AND EASY – with 3 easy steps, clear...

Best For Basic Checks (Frequent)

Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way...
Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way...
  • For maintaining healthy water chemistry in...
  • Analyzes four chemical factors; free chlorine,...
  • Dip in water for instant reading; no-bleed pads...
Lamotte Insta Test 3 Swimming pool...
Lamotte Insta Test 3 Swimming pool...
  • The Insta-Test 3 measures Free Chlorine 0-10 ppm...
  • Swirl-n-read strip with instant results

Best For Full Checks (Monthly)

JNW Direct Pool and Spa Test Strips...
JNW Direct Pool and Spa Test Strips...
  • THE ULTIMATE AT HOME POOL TEST STRIPS for your...
  • EXTREMELY EASY TO USE pool water test strips,...
  • BONUS FREE MOBILE APP INCLUDED - Record, track and...
Pool and Spa Test Strips - 7 Way...
Pool and Spa Test Strips - 7 Way...
  • DIVE IN & SWIM CAREFREE - Relax into your pool or...
  • FASTER & EASIER THAN LIQUID TEST KITS - Strips...
  • SAVE HUNDREDS & FREQUENT TRIPS TO THE POOL STORE...

Best Saltwater Pools

TOP LINE TEST STRIPS - 120 Strips 7...
TOP LINE TEST STRIPS - 120 Strips 7...
  • New 2021 Version 7 in 1 Test Kit - YOUR COMPLETE...
  • 120 Pool Water Test Strips Per Package - MORE PER...
  • For Fresh and Salt Water: Test Strips For Pools...

Best Value Strips

EASYTEST Pool Test...
EASYTEST Pool Test...
  • ღ Convenient and quick ღ Our Pool Spa and Hot...
  • ღ High-quality test kit ღ Seven chemical...
  • ღ Scope of application ღ Our products can...

What You Need To Consider

Even the very best testing strips are fairly straightforward, but with so many different products to choose from, how can you know which one is truly the best?

We recommend you ask yourself the following questions:

Are They Easy To Use?

All test strips are designed for convenience, ease of use, and won’t require a degree to figure out your pool’s chemical levels. 

Test strips are a thin piece of paper that work similar to litmus paper. 

Outfitted on the strip are multiple square pads that react with the pool water to indicate a chemical level that is present (or not present enough). 

In order to use them, you need to take a sample of the pool water and then dip the strip into it. The reaction causes the pads on the strip to change color. You then match the strip to the color chart on the back of the bottle.

This chart will tell you if your chemical levels are too low, too high, or just right.

What Chemicals Do They Test For?

Test strips are multi-faceted, meaning they can test for multiple chemicals at the same time. 

The main components your strip should test for are the water’s pH, alkalinity, and free chlorine levels. However, there are 4, 5, and even 7-in-1 strips that will also test your pool water for calcium hardness, cyanuric acid, total chlorine, and bromine.

Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way...
Poolmaster 22211 Smart 4-Way...
  • For maintaining healthy water chemistry in...
  • Analyzes four chemical factors; free chlorine,...
  • Dip in water for instant reading; no-bleed pads...

For the most part, using a strip that is 3 or 4-in-1 is sufficient for weekly testing. However, the wider range covered by 7-in-1 strips makes them a good candidate to use for monthly testing. 

Additionally, there are strips that will only test for specific chemicals. 

For instance, if you’re the owner of a saltwater pool, you’ll need to pick up a pack of strips that test for pool salt levels. Also, strips for metals like copper and iron are a smart idea, so you can prevent your water from potentially turning green.

TOP LINE TEST STRIPS - 120 Strips 7...
TOP LINE TEST STRIPS - 120 Strips 7...
  • New 2021 Version 7 in 1 Test Kit - YOUR COMPLETE...
  • 120 Pool Water Test Strips Per Package - MORE PER...
  • For Fresh and Salt Water: Test Strips For Pools...

Oh, and there’s also urine test strips you can keep on hand so you know when the pool needs to be treated and when it’s safe to go back in after an “accident”.

How Long Do The Results Take?

After you dunk the strip in the pool water sample, you’ll be able to see the results fairly quickly, which is another reason why they’re the preferred testing option of pool owners.

It only takes a few seconds for the water to react with the strip. After you remove it from the sample, a 30 second wait is all you need before reading the results. Any sooner and the pads on the strip may not have fully changed color for an accurate reading. 

In any case, the directions on the bottle will indicate how long you should wait for the results, but it’s usually between 15 and 30 seconds.

Do They Provide Accurate Results?

This is a topic that’s up for debate, but the bottom line is that pool test strips are accurate. 

The main problem with test strip accuracy is that they use colors on the strip that need to be matched up to the colors on the back of the test strip bottle. This makes things completely subjective.

In your eyes, the colors you see on your strip might match perfectly, but to someone else’s eyes it might not look quite the same. You’ll still be in the general ballpark and it won’t be off by much, but because you’re relying on color matching the level of precision won’t be quite there.

Also keep in mind to test your water sample fairly quickly after you’ve taken it from the pool. If the sample sits for too long, even the slightest change in water temperature can break down the chlorine, which can lead to further changes in the sample’s pH and alkalinity levels.

This means the results won’t be a true reflection of what’s in the pool, and may cause you to improperly “balance” it.

Are The Readings Easy To Understand?

Test strips come in a bottle, and on the back of that bottle is a color chart. This chart provides you with all the information you need for each level you’re testing for.

After you dip the strip, you’ll wait for the colors on it to change. Once they have, you’ll match it up to the chart on the back of the bottle. The chart shows a range of colors for each level, so you’ll easily be able to tell if the level is too low, or too high.

Some strips can be easier to match up with their respective color charts simply because they use a scale of light to dark colors to indicate saturation level. The chart will also tell you which colors are in the ideal range, with some drawing a box around them, while others are more obvious and will literally write “OK”. 

There’s also arrows usually pointing to the readings that are too low or too high. Also, some bottles will go so far as to show you how to hold the strip and line up its pads with the chart for side-by-side comparison of the results.

Are They Expensive To Buy?

In the grand scheme of things, test strips are super affordable.

You’ll come across strips of all different prices, and that will usually depend on how many levels/chemicals the strip can test for. 

In general, you can pick up a pack of 100 or even 150 test strips that test for 7 levels, for around $20 USD. A 5-in-1, (or less) will be even cheaper, whereas some of the specialized strips can be a bit more expensive, but usually only by a few dollars.

EASYTEST Pool Test...
EASYTEST Pool Test...
  • ღ Convenient and quick ღ Our Pool Spa and Hot...
  • ღ High-quality test kit ღ Seven chemical...
  • ღ Scope of application ღ Our products can...

You can also buy strips in smaller quantities of 50, which can help you save some money if they won’t be used as frequently.

How Long Will They Last?

Yes, pool test strips do expire.

This may sound odd (because they’re basically just a piece of paper), but their shelf life is only 1 to 2 years max. They won’t stop working at this point, but similar to medication, they’ll just become less effective and return less accurate results after the expiration date.

Also, make sure to keep them stored in their plastic, moisture sealed container at all times. If moisture creeps in, it can compromise the integrity of the strip, and you’ll get inaccurate results.

Additionally, keep your fingers off the pads, as you can contaminate them, which can also result in inaccuracy.

How To Use Pool Test Strips

Test strips make it easy to keep on top of things, and we recommend testing your pool water a minimum of once a week.

Take a Water Sample

Testing the water needs to be done by taking a water sample, and not just by reading the levels off the surface of the pool water.

Start by finding an area away from the skimmer and return jets, where the water has already been well circulated. Then, get the water sample by holding a cup upside down and plunging it elbow deep into the pool. This ensures you’re getting a well-balanced sample of water for testing purposes. 

Water that’s taken from the surface can be less accurate, as the sun’s rays and warmer temperatures will diminish chlorine levels in that area of the water.

Dip Your Strip

Now that you have a cup of your pool’s water, dip the strip into it.

After about 10 seconds remove it from the water, and let it dry out for anywhere between 15 to 30 seconds before moving onto the final step.

Check The Results

By now the squares on the strip should have changed to a bunch of different colors.

Using the chart on the back of the test strip bottle, you can match up the squares and see how close the water is to the ideal levels on the chart.

If the levels are too high or too low, you’ll have to balance your pool water, and re-test until you have everything in the correct ranges.

Our Top Pick

Milliard Pool Test Strips – for...
Milliard Pool Test Strips – for...
  • HEALTHY WATERS - keep your waters in perfect...
  • 5 WAY TESTING - each strip accurately tests for...
  • QUICK AND EASY – with 3 easy steps, clear...

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